Florida House speaker behind legislation to fight flooding and sea level rise

Reporter: Morgan Rynor Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Florida Speaker Chris Sprowls (R). Credit: WINK News.

Hurricanes come to Florida, bringing wind, storm surge and feet of rain. These storms leave many with flooded homes to rebuild.

We looked at what lawmakers hope to do to help Floridians facing floodwaters, as flooding becomes more of a reality for people living in the state and reflecting in insurance rates.

We spoke to Florida Speaker Chris Sprowls (R), who proposes what he calls the most robust agenda to fight flooding and sea level rise.

The agenda known as “Always Ready” is made up of multiple bills. One key measure that would impact people in Southwest Florida are tax breaks to home owners who voluntarily raise their properties.

“So that as their home values go up because of those improvements, they’re not taxed,” Sprowls told WINK News. “So we want to make sure they have an incentive to do it.”

Another bill would allow local governments to tap into tourist development tax money to pay for flood prevention projects.

And another would require the state to create a statewide flooding and sea level rise assessment and update it every year.

“We’ve committed at least $100 million per year to address these projects and will hopefully result in, not only protecting our communities, but also lowering our property insurance rates as well,” Sprowls said.

We asked Sprowls if he thinks the new bill proposed will mitigate high costs and bring it down before that October date when the new FEMA rates come out.

“Look, we hope so, that they’re going to build some of that in,” Sprowls responded. “But you know, the reality is that’s going to come upon us really, really quick. But it’s not just living between now and October, it’s living well beyond October into the next decade into the next 30 years.”

These are proposals at this point and have not been passed into law, but Sprowls told us they’re on the fast track with this one.

Sprowls is working to pass the legislation in the State House, and State Sen. Ray Rodrigues (Estero-R) is working to pass it at the Florida Senate.

They’re hoping to have what they call a bipartisan bill in front of the governor to sign by the end of March.

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